By Dave B.
The second season of American Gods (Starz) begins nearly immediately after the end of the first season’s epic finale. As the modern gods of high technology plot their revenge, Mr. Wednesday and Shadow prepare for war, gathering the ancient gods into an alliance and forging weapons for the fight ahead. Meanwhile, Mad Sweeney and Laura (Shadow’s dead wife) try to free themselves from Mr. Wednesday’s machinations and the African gods debate whether or not the upcoming war will benefit them and their people.
I was a big fan of the first season of American Gods. I found it visually stunning, mentally engaging, and completely unlike any other show on television. The second season…well, it retains most of the first two previously mentioned elements, but as far as retaining its uniqueness…I’m not so certain. The problem with season two is that, narratively, it regresses a lot instead of taking a bold step forward. Everything feels like shuffling checkers pieces around a board because the plot barely advances at all. The first season’s finale (which felt explosive and game changing) is pretty much completely ignored in season two: in other words, a seemingly apocalyptic event has no discernable consequences. Even worse, most of the main characters, while experiencing some internal growth, don’t have that growth translate much into changes in their behavior. They pursue the EXACT same goals in largely the same way for mostly the same reasons that they did in the previous season.
This is not to say there’s no value in watching the second season of American Gods. If you have an interest in mythology or a bit of the pagan in your spirit, how the show combines various belief systems from around the world into its universe is still fascinating to behold. And this season lays the foundation for what could be a revolutionary third season (particularly where the African gods are concerned). The POTENTIAL of American Gods is still evident.
Unfortunately, a television show’s sophomore effort needs to do more than just rehash the potential greatness that it has previously displayed and American Gods fails to reach this bar. Put plainly, it’s unambiguously worse than its previous season in every measurable way and that’s nearly unforgivable in my book. I’ll stick with the show through it’s next season, but at this point, I think it’s equally likely that I’ll be writing about its demise as about its resurrection. A show with such a grandiose name should be ashamed of itself for demonstrating such timidity in its storytelling.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.